Guest column: Examine Mormonism before pronouncing judgment

Tyler Grant

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the LDS or Mormon church, has been in the national spotlight lately, with Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney running for president. For years, Harry Reid has served as Senate Democratic Majority Leader as well.

For me, a lifelong member of the church who grew up in Utah, it has thrown into sharp relief the misconceptions about Latter-day Saints that I had heard existed but never experienced. Since I do not have the space to address and rebut every misconception about my faith, I will stay positive and offer some clarifying assertions. That way, at least, people will know how Mormons see themselves. So, who are the Mormons and what are they about?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims to be nothing less than God’s own church on the earth, restored and led by himself. In the church is the fullness of Christ’s gospel, restored to Joseph Smith, who had the same power and authority as prophets of past millennia. That authority has been passed to each succeeding president of the church, down to President Thomas S. Monson today. Consequently, the gospel contains the keys to happiness and the authority to provide necessary ordinances for the next life.

The implications of these truths could hardly be more significant. Either God deals directly with humankind or he does not. If he does, what would that look like? Why are there not prophets today, in a most critical era? Why does he not send more guidance and wisdom for us today, that we may find joy and reach our potential in this life and beyond?

Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, frankly believe that God lives and he does speak to his children, pleading with them to follow him. We further claim that his power and message are fully manifest in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

To me personally, the church means everything. I would not be where I am today if not for the church, but more importantly, my hope for the future is bright. When I find myself drifting away from the spirit and teachings of the church, my strength flags; bitterness and cynicism infiltrate my attitude; and the past seems to hold the future hostage. But as I seek to be nearer Christ and make efforts to follow his teachings taught in the church, I find strength I didn’t have, I find love for all people and I know that every element of my life serves a purpose. This is the blessing of knowing God lives and cares for each of us, and it is a blessing each and every one can obtain.

I am fully aware that my stating such things in a public forum may invite ridicule from some. Yet even to those who cannot believe, I would assert that my religion only increases my power to be a better member of the society on which we all depend. I and others of my faith hold hard work, honesty, a hunger for truth and care for our fellow man to be among our highest ideals. We stand for those ideals that lift people everywhere of all faiths and traditions.

If you have questions about what Mormons believe, my plea would be to go to the source rather than to rely on popular culture. Read the Book of Mormon yourself. At the very least, go the church’s websites ( and before passing judgment. Better yet, visit your local congregation.

As for the many criticisms of the church, they tend to fade under close examination. Seek from the source to discover if the church is true. The true church of Christ has always suffered rather stiff opposition. This is not likely to change. One resource which seeks to refute the myriad of criticisms is Mormon Voices ( and the associated Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (

“Mormons” will always be a little different from many other people, but as 2 percent of the population in the United States and growing, we are not the limited curiosity that we once were. The LDS church is now the fourth largest church in the United States.

Many of you will have the opportunity to meet and work with LDS members. I think you will find that members will never retreat from the truth of the gospel, but I think you will also find them to be valuable contributors at work, in the community and in society.